Kirby Smart, Gus Malzahn have traveled parallel paths, but they’ll collide on grand stage

ATHENS – These aren’t very reflective times for the respective coaches facing off Saturday in the SEC Championship Game, what with everything that’s on the line and all. But as they get set to match wits again, it is pretty interesting to note the incredibly parallel paths that Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn have taken.

In fact, if not for some special circumstances, Smart might be where Malzahn is, and Malzahn might be somewhere else. Perhaps Arkansas.

Smart and Malzahn were both up for the Auburn job in December of 2012, and Smart actually was considered a favorite for a while.

As detailed a couple of weeks ago in  a revealing report by ESPN’s Chris Low, as the Tigers parted ways with Gene Chizik after the 2012 season, Smart was the top choice among members of the school’s search committee, including former players Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan. But Alabama coach Nick Saban asked for only one assurance from Smart, his star defensive coordinator, when he informed him of his intentions to interview at Auburn. Saban asked Smart to stick with the Crimson Tide through the BCS national championship run.

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